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Fighting terror

Postal building free of anthrax

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2003

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Postal Service officials said Tuesday that thousands of samples taken from the air and on surfaces inside the shuttered Brentwood Road postal facility in Washington showed no signs of anthrax spores, and they were taking the first steps to prepare the building for occupation sometime this summer.

The results of the samples demonstrate that the Dec. 14 fumigation of Washington's central mail processing site, which has been closed since the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed two postal workers, was a success, said Thomas Day, the Postal Service's vice president for engineering.

"We are very confident that we have a building that is anthrax-free," said Day.

Crews took 5,029 air and surface samples following the fumigation, and all showed "100 percent no growth" of anthrax spores, Day said.

The results will be reviewed by an independent committee of 12 academic, government and private sector experts.

The Environmental Clearance Committee, co-chaired by the D.C. Department of Health and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, will recommend whether the building is safe to reopen.

Army investigates deaths of Afghan prisoners

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. Army is conducting a criminal investigation into whether American soldiers caused the deaths of two Afghan prisoners at Bagram Air Base in December, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

The men died while under U.S. control, and a military pathologist entered on their death certificates that the cause was homicide, said the spokesman, Col. Roger King.

The death certificates for both men said they had died of blunt force injuries, in addition to other causes.

Many al-Qaida and Taliban operatives captured by U.S. and allied forces reportedly have been brought to the base at Bagram, about 35 miles north of Kabul, where a detention center has been established.

U.S. officials will not identify prisoners held there, but the prisoners reportedly have included several high-ranking al-Qaida leaders -- including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged planner of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, who was captured Saturday morning in Pakistan.

One of the Afghans, listed as Dilawar, 22, from the Khost area in southeastern Afghanistan, died on Dec. 10 from "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease," according to his death certificate.

The other, Mullah Habibullah, about 30, from the southern province of Oruzgan, died Dec. 3. According to King, his death was also attributed to a blunt force injury, in addition to a blood clot in the lung.

2 charged with trying to smuggle weapons

WASHINGTON -- Two Taiwanese businessmen have been charged with trying to smuggle U.S.-made weapons to Iran, the latest in a string of illegal arms sales foiled by law enforcement activities increased in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Federal authorities announced Tuesday that a U.S. grand jury in Baltimore indicted En-Wei Eric Chang, a naturalized American living in Taiwan, and David Chu, a Taiwan resident, on charges they tried to buy early warning radar, Cobra attack helicopters and U.S. spy satellite photos for Iran in violation of U.S. embargoes against that country.

Chu was arrested during a sting operation in Guam, but Chang remains a fugitive, authorities said.

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